So much can happen on the first Wednesday of every February, keeping up can be hard, so here’s a look at some of the things that went down in the Big Ten.
With another week of football season in the books, here’s a roundup of the marks I left on the Internet as Ohio State and Minnesota got ready for a big November football game.
Of course we spent a lot of time looking back at the Buckeyes’ big win at Michigan State, including what that taught us about both programs, but the Golden Gophers deserve some respect after already winning seven games this season, including a spanking of Iowa last season.
There was also time for a little fun from the world of Major League Baseball.
OSU Football: Scouting Minnesota – We take a look at the Buckeyes’ next opponent on the gridiron
OSU Football Second Thoughts: Michigan State – The Buckeyes made use of their various talent advantages
Cus Words: Better Not Look Down – The Buckeyes are back on top of the Big Ten, but they can’t afford to overlook Minnesota
OSU Assistants: Warinner and Ash – Buckeye coaches talk win at MSU, look ahead to Minnesota
I circled the Minnesota game as a potential trap game in August. I was thinking about that even before the Michigan State game was moved to a night affair, and that loss of preparation time led me to pick the upset in our preseason predictions for Buckeye Sports Bulletin and here on the blog.
A mental letdown is also natural coming off such an emotional win against the Spartans, and in the summer it was easy to see the Buckeyes having a hard time getting up for a nondescript Minnesota team almost 50 years removed from its last Big Ten championship.
The Golden Gophers at 7-2 and coming off a thrashing of Iowa are too good to call this a trap game, though. I do believe they will have the Buckeyes’ attention, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be an upset.
Heading into last week, I felt pretty confident Ohio State had better players than Michigan State, but I was not at all sure they were ready mentally to utilize that skill. The first 25 minutes or so of game action validated this belief, but then they righted themselves and turned on the afterburners.
That response — and an even greater talent disparity — makes me think the Buckeyes will take care of business in Minneapolis, but there is certainly a path to victory for Minnesota.
The Golden Gophers dominated Iowa with the help of turnovers, and such miscues were part of their undoing in an upset at Illinois. If they can come out ahead in this department and hit some shots in play action (although Ohio State is curiously enough 2-0 when losing the turnover battle this season), they have a formidable running attack and defense that can shorten the game.
Here’s my full scouting report at BuckeyeSports.com.
Urban Meyer let his Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate their statement win over Michigan State, but he acknowledged he is concerned about the loss of about eight hours worth of preparation time for Minnesota (Read more).
The Golden Gophers are 7-2 and will play host to the Buckeyes on Saturday in a game scheduled to kick off at noon Eastern.
While nine offensive players were either recognized as grading out at a championship level or sharing the offensive player of the week award, only a handful of defensive players could say the same about either.
Meyer and safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash both acknowledged the Buckeyes’ defensive effort was not satisfactory even though they won the game. While more than a third of the yards Ohio State allowed came in the fourth quarter after they built up a three-score lead, the secondary missed some opportunities to keep the talented Spartans in check. Continue reading Ohio State defense on spot after offensive explosion
I think this will be one of the better Big Tens we’ve seen in the past decade or so, but I’m not sure there is an elite team in the league. There should be depth, and that could set things up for a strong 2015, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Ohio State is rebuilding on defense, but that unit could hardly be worse than it was when the ’13 season concluded, so it’s hard to count that as a negative. Michigan State’s offense was a sore spot early last season but finished on a high and returns almost everyone of consequence. They’ll have some new faces on the offensive line, but that unit wasn’t great anyway so they can probably get by with an average front again this season all things considered. Teams may play them differently now that Connor Cook is a known commodity, though. How he responds to that will tell a large part of the tale this season. Recent conference history is littered with quarterbacks who looked good early in their career but plateaued.
Michigan State is, pardon the pun, green in some spots on defense, and it is unlikely the Spartans will be as tough there regardless of how good coaches Mark Dantonio and Pat Narduzzi have proven to be on that side of the ball. The same can be said of Ohio State’s offensive line, though, so it all could be a wash when the teams play Nov. 8. Continue reading 2014 Big Ten football picks
Earlier we took a look at the East. Now comes the West, which should have an interesting race.
Iowa and Minnesota both showed great improvement last season while Nebraska and Wisconsin have questions but remain contenders. Continue reading Big Ten West spring football review